Julio Lara/Daily Journal
Alex Harrigan returns a shot in her three-set win on Thursday.
Bill Smith, long time head tennis coach for Burlingame High School, flashed a bit of a smile when recounting his girls’ team latest victory — a 4-3 decision over Aragon.
“It’s an old-school Panther win,” Smith said. “It’s the way I would want us to play.”
In a week that began with losses to Central Coast Section and Northern California powerhouses Monte Vista and Menlo School (by a combined 14-1), the Panthers started the new Peninsula Athletic League season not dwelling on the defeats. Instead, down 3-2, Burlingame scratched and fought its way to a 4-3 win — sweeping the doubles and getting a win at No. 1 singles to seal the deal.
“It definitely helped us in regards to our doubles play,” Smith said about the Monte Vista and Menlo matches. “Our second and third doubles learned how to play against teams that would be pressing them the entire time. They took something out of it. Instead of retreating in their minds, being scarred by it — I wrote the team, ‘That which doesn’t destroy you makes you stronger,’ so we didn’t a little Nietzsche the last couple of days.”
“We’re young, but I think the seniors did a good job with the leadership today,” said Aragon head coach Linda Brown. “They had a tough match against Palo Alto yesterday (Wednesday) so I think the singles players were a little tired. I think a little of that showed today. Our doubles teams are still young so I’m hoping as the season goes on they’ll develop and keep getting better and better.”
Matches don’t come much better than the back-and-forth affair that culminated the day. Tied 3-3, the fate of both teams rested on their No. 1 singles players. At the end, Alex Harrigan broke Kaede Ishikawa’s serve a pair of times to come away with a 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 win.
“I’ve worked a lot on getting myself out of my head,” Harrigan said. “So, out there it was really me against her. She was playing really well. She was hitting those lines, being very aggressive and hitting a lot of those drop shots which I don’t like. I needed to stay consistent and stay aggressive because that’s when I’m playing my best.”
Before Harrigan, Sara Arfania and Lindsey Schloetter picked up a big win in No. 2 doubles. Also victorious for the Panthers were Lisa Patel and Haley Shaffer (No. 1 doubles), and Madeline Somers and Christina Monisteri (No. 3 doubles).
Vickie Sun, Aislinn Oka and Melissa Ma won singles matches for Aragon.
“It’s always good to start off winning. It’s good to win no matter when it is in the season,” Harrigan said. “I think our team, because we are so young, it’s like ‘Oh, OK, we’ll see how this goes.’ We’re really not sure. We have a lot of good players that are young. Today, we proved to ourselves that we’re better than we thought we would be.”